Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Lamentations 4:1 - 4:11

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Lamentations 4:1 - 4:11

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Jerusalem's Affliction a Punishment for her Guilt

v. 1. How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! losing its splendor and color. The stones of the Sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street, or, "The hallowed stones are cast forth at all street corners," with utter disregard of their costliness. The two expressions together are a picture of the holy people of the Lord, consecrated to be a kingdom of priests unto the Lord.

v. 2. The precious sons of Zion,
all its inhabitants, noble by virtue of the Lord's selection, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, of little or no value, the work of the hands of the potter! readily shattered in pieces for their sins.

v. 3. Even the sea monsters,
the great mammalian animals of the ocean, or "the jackals of the desert," draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones, thereby giving some evidence of motherly feeling; the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness, whose want of affection for their young is referred to also Job_39:16. This point of cruelty has been reached also by the Jewish mothers, so that they have abandoned the natural feelings of motherhood.

v. 4. The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst,
there being no nourishment for infants; the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them, since no one was left to distribute food, even if the supply had not been exhausted.

v. 5. They that did feed delicately,
being very choicy in the selection of the viands which loaded down their tables, are desolate in the streets, without homes and without food as well; they that were brought up in scarlet, borne on couches of the finest crimson material, embrace dunghills, fortunate in finding so much as a rubbish-heap for their weary limbs.

v. 6. For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment,
the catastrophe coming upon the city with great suddenness, and no hands stayed on her, it was not necessary for any human hands to be active in her destruction, since the Lord Himself brought the calamity upon her. The fate of Jerusalem was more terrible than that of Sodom because her guilt was greater. Thus Sodom, for instance, was spared the slow tortures of hunger and pestilence by the suddenness of the punishment which ended her existence.

v. 7. Her Nazarites,
her princes or rulers, separated from the rest of the people by virtue of the dignity of their office, were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, or "corals"; their polishing was of sapphire, beautiful in form.

v. 8. Their visage,
now that the calamity has come upon them, is blacker than a coal, than blackness, or soot; they are not known in the streets, because their appearance is so dreadfully altered; their skin cleaveth to their bones, on account of the excessive loss of flesh which they had suffered; it is withered, dry and yellow; it is become like a stick, without sap and vigor.

v. 9. They that be slain with the sword are better,
more fortunate, than they that be slain with hunger, because they were not obliged to suffer the agonies of a slow death; for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field. Such was the fate of the men, of the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem; far more pitiful was that of the women.

v. 10. The hands of the pitiful women,
of those who were tenderhearted and merciful, from whom one might have expected a different behavior, have sodden their own children, in an abhorrent and almost unexplainable form of cannibalism; they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people, during the siege of Jerusalem. Cf Deu_28:57. Thus the extremity of the case influenced even delicate and kind-hearted women to commit such horrible crimes.

v. 11. The Lord hath accomplished His fury,
fulfilling the designs of His wrath; He hath poured out His fierce anger and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof, the reference being to the total destruction of the city by the punishment of Jehovah. Thus the Lord proved Himself a holy and a jealous God, who was bound to visit the iniquity of the sinners upon them.